Israel is expected to increase its water technology exports to some $1.1 billion by the end of this year, a significant jump from 2006's $850 million, but only a drop in the bucket of an industry that is worth an estimated $410b., the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry reported Sunday ahead of this week's WATEC Israel 2007 conference. "In many different areas of water technology, Israel has the appearance of a country that is a world leader in research and development, innovation and initiative," said the Ministry's report. "Today, there exist many different water technologies that were developed in Israel, and on a constant basis the country hosts water leaders from around the world who come here to learn from our innovation and our success." According to the Ministry, representatives from numerous countries, including Australia, India, Brazil, Kenya, Chile, Columbia, Latvia and Hungary will be in attendance at WATEC, as well as CEOs from Veolia Water, Siemens and General Electric, three of the largest water technology companies in the world. While Israeli hi-tech has long been the lynch-pin of the country's export-based economy, in recent years the water-technology sector has received increased attention from the government, which voted in June 2006 to increase its annual investments in water-tech to NIS 120m. Additionally, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed a working group consisting of representatives from various governmental ministries and leaders of private water-tech companies to construct a plan that will advance the country's water-tech sector in the hope of increasing exports to new markets around the world. By 2015, the global water-tech sector is expected to be worth $600b. Separately on Sunday, the water company Hagihon and JWPE (Jerusalem Wastewater and Purification Enterprises) signed a collaboration agreement with GE Water and Process Technologies under which GE will provide the equipment necessary for an expansion of the central Jerusalem wastewater treatment center.